A Muskett village tour

Norfolk Musketts.  Where to start?

I referred in my second blog post to the ‘large Muskett family tree’ deposited at Kirby Hall, of which we also have a copy.  It is vast, and it is only part of the picture.  My father-in-law has, over the years, gathered and put together numerous other trees, which don’t necessarily tie in with each other.

Our own line is established back to an Andrew Muskett of Shelfanger and Thelton, born in the late 17th century.  He is thought to be descended from the Musketts of Haughley, Suffolk, as described in Suffolk Manorial Families.  David, my husband, is descended via John of Tharston, Thomas of Gressenhall, and three generations of Thomas of Attleborough.

For him, though, the research part of our Norfolk sojourn was partly about attempting to establish a link between the Musketts from Carleton Rode and ‘his’ Musketts.  Some of these emigrated to Tasmania in the 19th century, and we are now in touch with some of their descendants.

On our tour of some of the Muskett villages we visited Ashwellthorpe, where we spotted an intriguing signpost to ‘Audrey Muskett cottages’ and Tacolneston and thence to Carleton Rode.  We had seen a plan of the Carleton Rode graveyard and knew that there were Musketts buried there, but the plan seemed to indicate a sort of extension, which we could not find.  Having searched for Musketts without trace, we decided to continue on to the next village when, by pure chance, down the road we spotted a completely separate plot with more graves.

Thrilled that we had actually found this ‘graveyard extension’, we parked up to investigate.  And there we found the graves of Bishop Muskett (yes, that really was his first name) and his wife Ann, who died in 1901 and 1898 respectively.  Both gravestones are well preserved.

Carleton Rode; Muskett
Muskett graves Carleton Rode

Interestingly, though, Bishop Muskett seems to have emigrated to Tasmania and then returned!  He appears in the Tasmania, Australia, Immigrant Lists 1841 – 1884 on Ancestry.  A 28 year old single man and farm labourer, Bishop sailed on the ‘Southern Eagle’, arriving in Launceston, Tasmania, on the 28th August 1857.  However, by 1865 he was back in Norfolk as that is when he married Ann.

Carleton Rode; Muskett
Carleton Rode church

Bishop Muskett had a brother called James.  James and his wife Eliza (neé Moss) also emigrated to Tasmania,  arriving just before Bishop on 18 August 1857.  They settled in Franklin.  It is from James that the Tasmanian Musketts are descended Unfortunately we are no nearer working out the connection with ‘our’ Musketts!

So from our discoveries at Carleton Rode it was on to Tasburg, one of Norfolk’s Round Tower churches

Tasburg; Muskett
Tasburg church

and then Newton Flotman, where we found some more Muskett graves.  Photo This time they were badly damaged, but we were able to record the inscriptions before they deteriorate further.  They gave us some useful clues about family connections including  a reference to Andrew Muskett of Thelverton and Charles Muskett of Pressingfield, Suffolk.  Another grave gave us information about James Muskett’s death at Kenningham Hall, Mulbarton in 1864. This called for a slight diversion to find and photograph the Ancestral Hall.

Newton Flotman; Muskett
Newton Flotman church and Muskett graves

All in all, an intriguing and worthwhile Muskett tour, and one that we need to extend on our next Norfolk visit.


Inside East Dereham Church at last!

Day four of our Norfolk Family History trip was supposed to be all about the Musketts, touring round villages such as Carleton Rode, Tasburgh and Newton Flotman.  After the East Dereham church disappointment the previous day, my husband very generously said that we could start the day by going there first – if they were open.

I phoned the parish office – yes, the church would be open until 12 noon. (Perhaps at some point I will contact them again to suggest a little publicity might be in order).

And so we returned to East Dereham and – the church was open!!

East Dereham
Tudor ceiling East Dereham Church

What joy!  It’s a beautiful church, with some amazing tudor ceilings and the memorial to William Cowper, so maybe that’s why it’s all kept shut up.

We headed to the Lady Chapel, and there we found more George memorials.  I can’t quite believe that they’re ‘mine’ as these were obviously well-to-do folk, but I’m working on the connection.  Astey George was buried here in 1723, along with his wife Elizabeth and four of his sons (he had two attempts at a son called Astey, but both died young).  There’s also an Elizabeth George from Colney buried 1732 (I really don’t know who she is) and an Ann George from Carlton, buried 1737.  This latter individual is interesting as I have already transcribed her will, and I think I need to return to it and work out the relationships as she seems to be connected with Astey in some way.

Asty George
Memorial for Asty George Lady Chapel

At long last I had stood in the church where so many of my ancestors were baptised, married, no doubt attended Sunday worship and were buried.  It was very special.

East Dereham
Font in East Dereham Church
Cowper. East Dereham
Cowper window, East Dereham Church













And so we then headed south to Muskett territory and a very interesting and useful day photographing more churches and gravestones and making discoveries.  But that’s for another post!

East Dereham Tour

I read somewhere recently that Family History tourism is on the increase.  I’m not surprised:  the popularity of programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, plus the WW1 anniversary is encouraging increasing numbers of people to look into their ancestry.

For day three of our Norfolk research I had planned an itinerary taking in lots of locations with George connections.

I had made a note of where the various George family members were in the censuses so that I could take photos, taking in a number of settlements on the outskirts of East Dereham as well as visiting the town itself.  So we found Badley Moor, Dumpling Green, Neatheard Moor, Etling Green and Northall Green.  Those names have been familiar to me for years, but to stand there looking at the landscape my ancestors had known was very special.

026 Chapels at ED cemetery
Chapels at East Dereham cemetery
006 Yaxham Church
Yaxham Church
043 Scarning School
Scarning School

We visited the lovely Yaxham church, where I now knew that my 3 x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jefferies had been baptised in 1781.  We visited East Dereham cemetery, armed with the plan obtained the day before at Kirby Hall, and admired the very Victorian twin chapels.  I also stood outside Scarning school, where, in 1861 aged 13, my great grandfather was living as an ‘errand boy and scholar’.

In East Dereham itself we took in the wide market place, before heading down to the church, with its huge, solid, freestanding belltower.  We located the George graves in the churchyard, thanks to the information found at Kirby Hall, but oh no!  The church itself was all locked up!  Absolutely no clue anywhere as to when it was normally open!

038 Bonner Museum, East Dereham
Bonner Museum, East Dereham

Now I had tried my best to plan this day in advance as best I could, but I’m afraid to say that I made an unfortunate assumption that a church in a place the size of East Dereham would be open for visitors.  How I wished I had contacted them in advance to check.  We visited the beautiful little Bonner museum http://www.derehamhistory.com/     where the helpful volunteer suggested that the church might be open in the mornings.  We made a note of the parish office phone number from the church noticeboard.  The only previous time I had tried to visit the church was back in 1987 when it turned out to be closed for refurbishment.  Though I was cross with myself for not checking in advance, I was equally cross at the total absence of any notices anywhere giving information on opening times.  Scarning church was also closed, but there at least there was a notice in the porch explaining that the church was open on Fridays but that a key could be obtained from a nearby resident at other times.  Thank you.  Very helpful.

052 Horse and Groom, Swaffham
Horse and Groom, Swaffham

Later in the day we travelled on to Swaffham, primarily to visit my Ancestral Pub.  Actually that’s not strictly true, but my 2 x great grandfather’s sister Ann and husband William Pitcher were licensees of the Horse and Groom in Lynn Street for over 40 years from 1851.  On William’s death their son Albert Pitcher took it on.  Previously William’s parents Christmas (what a great name!) and Elizabeth Pitcher had run the pub, so it had been in the family for decades.  We had a very nice evening meal there – a lovely way to round off the day’s Family History tourism.

MIs and Musketts at Kirby Hall

Day two of the Norfolk research: a visit to Kirby Hall. No, not some impressive ancestral pile (unfortunately), but a fantastic family history resource in the heart of Norwich.

Kirby Hall in St Giles Street is owned and run by Norfolk Family History Society, of which we are members. http://www.norfolkfhs.org.uk/ . It is open on a few days a week, staffed entirely by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers and what a great resource it is!

We had in advance looked at their holdings and had identified some things to look at, including MIs (monumental inscriptions) for East Dereham churchyard and an intriguing-sounding “large Muskett family tree”.

We seemed to impress the volunteers on duty by apparently having a bit of a clue as to what we were about (presumably they have some folk who wander in with a rather more vague notion of wanting to trace their family without knowing how) and set to work.

The MIs were great. I made a note of all the Georges buried at and in East Dereham church, and also at the cemetery and was able to photocopy a plan to help locate them. The 1830 Directory of Norfolk which I consulted amusingly described East Dereham inhabitants as “for the most part intelligent and highly respectable”!! Kirby Hall holds transcripts of very many parish registers as well as some wills, various books and finding aids, boxes of information on individual villages and family trees deposited with them by members.

My husband located the “large Muskett family tree” and………it turned out to be a copy sent to them by his father some years ago when he was actively researching Musketts! We have the identical thing at home. Ah well – he, too, founds lots of other useful things and we were there till chucking out time at 4.00pm!

A massive thank you to the volunteers who keep this place open!

George East Dereham
The graves of David and Elizabeth George, East Dereham